The Predictive Brain: A Modular View of Brain and Cognitive Function?

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Ines Hipolito, Michael D. Kirchhoff

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: predictive brain; modularity of the mind; cognitive function; functional segregation

Modularity is arguably one of the most influential theses guiding research on brain and cognitive function since phrenology. This paper considers the following question: is modularity entailed by recent Bayesian models of brain and cognitive function, especially the predictive processing framework? It starts by considering three of the most well-articulated arguments for the view that modularity and predictive processing work well together. It argues that all three kinds of arguments for modularity come up short, albeit for different reasons. The analysis in this paper, although formulated in the context of predictive processing, speaks to broader issues with how to understand the relationship between functional segregation and integration and the reciprocal architecture of the predictive brain. These conclusions have implications for how to study brain and cognitive function. Specifically, when cognitive neuroscience works within an acyclic Markov decision scheme, adopted by most Bayesian models of brain and cognitive function, it may very well be methodologically misguided. This speaks to an increasing tendency within the cognitive neurosciences to emphasise recurrent and reciprocal neuronal processing captured within newly emerging dynamical causal modelling frameworks. The conclusions also suggest that functional integration is an organising principle of brain and cognitive function.

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